For many people with depression, it is a struggle to find a medication that suits them. Antidepressant after antidepressant is tried, until one is found that works for them and has side effects that are bearable. Some are lucky and quickly find a treatment that is suitable, while those not as fortunate feel in the dark as their doctor prescribes various types of medications in the hope of eventual success.
The reason it is difficult to find a one-off effective treatment, is that the biological basis of depression is a highly complex and not entirely understood concept. The roles of various chemicals in the brain, implicated in depression, remain to be determined. The selection of specific therapies appropriate to the individual patient is still a major goal.
The monoamine hypothesis of depression was first proposed over thirty years ago and has proved to be an enduring basis for our understanding of the biology of depression. This theory proposes that the biological basis for depression is a deficiency in the neurotransmitters, or 'chemical messengers', serotonin and noradrenaline, which are found in the brain.
Over the past thirty years this hypothesis has been refined, as more experimental and clinical evidence has emerged. The use of SSRIs or selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (e.g. Prozac, Luvox, Cipramil, Aropax, Lorien), which prevent serotonin from being reabsorbed into the neurons after release, therefore compensating for the deficiency, has made a significant contribution to our understanding of the role of serotonin in depression.
Our knowledge of the role noradrenaline plays in this disorder has not been as complete, though, until now with the advent of reboxetine. Under the trade name Edronax, reboxetine is the first selective noradrenaline re-uptake inhibitor, or SNRI. As well as having the potential to further our understanding of chemical depression, it offers doctor and patient alike, a wider choice of treatment.
According to Sammi van Rooyen, product manager from Pharmacia &Upjohn: "Edronax was first produced in the late 80's, but due to funding problems, was only launched in Europe in 1997. It has now also been approved by the American Food and Drug Administration."
Previous studies have found that Edronax is as effective as and better tolerated than, the older tricyclic antidepressants in mixed populations of patients with mild to severe depression. Clinical studies have also found that these drugs may treat patients with severe depression more reliably than some selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors without subjecting them to the associated side effects.
Edronax is believed to elevate energy, motivation and drive and therefore alleviates the following symptoms of depression:
· Lack of enjoyment
· Loss of interest
· Decreased energy
· Impaired concentration and working memory
· Helplessness and hopelessness
Although it also has its fair share of side effects, like a dry mouth, constipation and insomnia, which should disappear after two to three weeks anyway, its major advantages are that it has no significant effect on weight, and less sexual dysfunction, which is a side effect usually associated with the use of SSRIs.
All in all, Edronax is an exciting new addition to the range of medications for the treatment of depression, offering hope to many more people.